Building Forward Together: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty | Unions Yeah!

Building Forward Together: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

This year the federal government will issue a statement on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Based on previous statements, it will likely be full of fine words. But to eradicate poverty, we need to look past the fine words and focus on the action of the federal government and others who have the power to reduce poverty but are failing to act.

Ottawa (13 Oct. 2021) — Around the world between 71 million and 100 million people have been pushed into poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of this year, that number could be as high as 163 million. This is in addition to the 1.3 billion people who were already living in poverty, and who may have been pushed deeper into poverty as a result of the pandemic.

Because of the impact of the pandemic, the theme chosen for the 2021 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty this October 17 is “Building Forward Together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet.”

Building Forward Together should mean an end to structural disadvantages and inequalities

The choice of Building Forward Together reflects the belief that if we are serious about ending poverty, it is not enough to turn back the clock to pre-COVID times. Ending poverty requires eliminating structural disadvantage and inequalities that leave huge numbers of people living in poverty so a select few can accumulate obscene amounts of wealth. What is also made clear is that to eradicate poverty, people living in poverty need to be able to make informed and meaningful decisions over matters that directly affect their lives.

Governments need to match actions to ideals

On the United Nations page for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, there is a description of what needs to be done to end poverty and that is what governments, intergovernmental organizations, and bodies like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) should be doing. Unfortunately, too often, they have been taking us in the other direction.

Instead of removing structural inequalities, their actions seem intended to further entrench them. A recent OECD tax agreement entrenches unfairness in the tax system and short-changes developing economies. The use of blended finance means that money that should be spent on poverty reduction is being siphoned off into privatization schemes.

Ignore the fine words and hold governments accountable for their actions

This year the federal government will issue a statement on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Based on previous statements, it will likely be full of fine words. But to eradicate poverty, we need to look past the fine words and focus on the actions of the federal government and others who have the power to reduce poverty but are failing to act.